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The Carter question

Written By: - Date published: 9:38 am, August 8th, 2010 - 75 comments
Categories: democratic participation - Tags:

I was disappointed to see Sean Plunket claim as part of a question to David Cunliffe that “archaic party structures” were getting in the way of getting rid of Chris Carter. Not just because the Carter issue is a sideshow but because it showed Plunket’s basic failure to understand the democratic function of political parties.

It seemed from Plunket’s question that he thinks the party should be able to expel anyone they want to without process. This highlights the corporatist view Plunket and many other political journalists seem to have of democratic organisations (they make the same mistake about unions). A view in which, if the boss wants you gone, you’re gone.

But it doesn’t work like that. And if it did we’d be in serious trouble as a democracy. Imagine, for example, what would have happened to the Labour party (and New Zealand’s political landscape) in the 80’s if the far-right hierarchy had been able to get rid of those that had disagreed with them so easily.

It will take a while for the Chris Carter situation to play out and it is unlikely that the result will be neat. That’s because he is protected by the same principles that allow every Labour Party member (and, indeed, members of other parties) to participate in the democratic process openly and safely.

Carter’s actions were absurd and may have damaged the party (or alternatively may have acted as a circuit-breaker – the jury’s still out on that one) but he is as entitled to due process as much as any other member of the party.

That may not make for a nice clean outcome accompanied by nice clean sound-bites but the alternative would mean destroying the “archaic party structures” that help underpin our democracy.

It’s just a shame some of our “expert” political commentators seem incapable of grasping that simple fact.

75 comments on “The Carter question ”

  1. The Voice of Reason 1

    I think one of the problems is failure to understand the separation of the party and the parliamentary wing. The expulsion from caucus was easy because of the nature of that grouping and their own collective rules and conventions. Membership of the party itself is a different matter and as Jim Anderton can attest, removing someone from the party, even with good reason, is a relatively slow matter.

    It is sad to hear Plunket being so disengenious. He would know full well that it’s process that requires investigation, explanation, debate and decision. It’s not dissimilar to his own failed personal grievance case against RNZ. He didn’t have any complaints about that ‘archaic’ process at the time, even though he lost the argument. Plunket got to have his day in court and so too will Carter. When he’s well enough to front, that is.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      I think you’re right about the failure to understand the party/parliamentary separation but only to a point. I don’t think they misconstrue the separation so much fail to place enough importance on the parties because it’s only the parliamentary arms that they see and report on every day.

      • The Voice of Reason 1.1.1

        Dead right, IB. The accredited parliamentary reporters treasure the privilege of being granted access to the point where they are co-opted in a similar way to embedded journos in a war. Reporting is reduced to impressions, presumptions and regurgitated press releases.

        • spot 1.1.1.1

          To be fair to them (and it’s hard some days) there has been a lot of comment out there by the likes of Little, Mallard (et al) that’d lead you to think Carter’s “expulsion” was, whilst being subject to “process”, all but a done deal in reality.

          Little in particular has been careful to note Carter’s right to be heard (as he should), but at the same time there’s a lot been done to undermine any sense of fairness or balance to a hearing, particularly when you see public talk of “caucus suspension….being a compelling case to answer”, “the case for expulsion being there”, or Carter being publicly cited as a “bit unbalanced” and “irrational” etc etc.

          IB is right, it wont be neat, and probably never was going to be after the public actions taken (early on, at least) to explain the situation and influence public opinion/perception on Carter.

      • Bunji 1.1.2

        I’ve heard David Shearer say that there are 3 major parts to his job: Parliament, Party and Electorate. The media are only interested in parliament, and thus miss probably 2/3rds of what MPs do.

        A lot of important and useful work goes on in electorate work (actually helping real people, hearing their concerns and shaping responses) and in the party (formulating policy, organising etc); but we’ll never hear about it.

    • Rich 1.2

      I was just thinking that Carter could actually join Anderton’s party. If Anderton gets the mayoral job, he’ll be wanting someone else to hold Wigwam. Or is the JAPP going to disappear with its leader?

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    It seemed from Plunket’s question that he thinks the party should be able to expel anyone they want to without process.

    So, Plunket was just proving his authoritarian, anti-democratic bent?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Plunket should know from his own quixote quest to become a weekend scribbler that most organisations dont work on the ‘my way or the highway ‘ approach.
      Of course if ends up working in a private radio station and the ratings dont deliver he may well wish for some ‘archaic rules’ to protect his income
      But when it comes to Labour any old nonsense question will do, right

  3. jbanks 3

    “It seemed from Plunket’s question that he thinks the party should be able to expel anyone they want to without process”

    Perhaps if the process was a bit more efficient then Labour’s national council could have got rid of him by now.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      “At least they made the trains run on time.”

    • bbfloyd 3.2

      j.b… you have a point to make? i know it’s a buzz to see your words there in print. but you really should try to make some sense.

      • jbanks 3.2.1

        Yep my point is that it’s ridiculous that after all this time (as the speaker of the house puts it) “Mr Carter remains a Labour MP despite no longer being a member of the Labour caucus.”

        Got it slow guy?

        • felix 3.2.1.1

          So that would be a “no” then.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.2

          Yep, You just proved, again, that you have NFI WTF you’re talking about.

          Chris Carter happens to be an electorate MP and can’t be kicked out of parliament. As he happens to be a member of the Labour Party that makes him a Labour MP – whether you like it or not.

          • jbanks 3.2.1.2.1

            Facepalm. He doesn’t have to be a Labour MP you utter idiot. He should be long gone from the Labour party.

            Geez you ISO guys are unbelievably slow.

            • Mickysavage 3.2.1.2.1.1

              Jbanks you must yearn for the day when there was summary execution. No mucking about with lawyers or rules, just a quick trip to the executioner and off with his head …

            • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.2.1.2

              No, just following due process unlike you RWNJs who tend to shoot first and not ask questions.

  4. Bill 4

    Good democratic processes resolve matters quickly and efficiently while ensuring that no participant in the process is dis-empowered or side lined.

    But to the best of my knowledge, neither the Labour Party nor the unions have anything close to the structures that would allow democratic cultures to flourish.

    What corporate structures are is essentially the old style democratic centralist structures with no pretence that bottom / up or periphery / centre communications are anything other than a harvesting process designed to empower the decision makers at the centre. The Labour Party and the unions employ the same structure but kid themselves…and us?… that democracy and the empowerment of the individual can exist in what are basically highly authoritarian environments.

    You can’t squeeze the round peg of democracy into the square hole of authoritarian structures, but to the Labour Party and the unions it’s as though the state dictatorships of the old left never happened, or happened for mysterious reasons that are to remain forever beyond our ken.

    Democracy 101 says that commands or instructions coming down from above are efficiently communicated and acted on in democratic centralist structures or environments. But the upward percolation of ideas or intent or whatever, is bogged down and diminished at every juncture on it’s way to the centre or top. And if meaningful and ongoing two way communication between the centre and the periphery, and back again is the order of the day (as it should be on the Carter issue) then forget it.

    Either everything dies in a quagmire of endless meetings, sub-committee determinations, feedback reviews, meetings about meetings and so on, or the process is short circuited by the centre eventually issuing what amounts to a decree on the matter.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      Fair point but within a representative democracy such as ours parties will inevitably be structured with the parliamentary arm at or near the top. But having an imperfect democratic structure is no reason to make it less democratic.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        But it’s not ‘an imperfect democratic structure’.

        It’s an undemocratic and even anti-democratic structure.

        Would you say that corporations are ‘imperfectly democratic’ or that they are simply not democratic?

        Would you have said that the dictatorships which rose on the left just under a 100 years ago were not dictatorships, but merely imperfect democracies?

        The exact same structures are employed in both cases as well as by the present day Labour Party and the unions. And it means that no matter the intent of the personnel within those organisations, the structures that the organisations are employing will twist any and all attempts at democratic procedure into some grotesque parody of democratic process and the eventual inevitable end result will be an authoritarian one.

        Illustrative examples abound.

        History shows us again and again that you do not have to make things less democratic in the structural environments that are used by the likes of the Labour Party or the unions.

        The imperatives of the structural environment will take care of that for you, no matter how long and how hard you might fight to preserve some bastardised approximation of functioning democracy within its confines.

        • Rex Widerstrom 4.1.1.1

          But it’s not ‘an imperfect democratic structure’.

          It’s an undemocratic and even anti-democratic structure.

          Illustrative examples abound.

          Indeed they do. Labour may well choose to act democratically. It may equally choose not to do so. And if it opts for the latter course then one has no legal redress (unlike, say, against a union).

          Myself and David Stevenson tried for accountability of internal political process through the High Court. Didn’t even get off the starting blocks. Bruce Payne didn’t have any luck against National, either.

          Plunket hasn’t “failed to understand the democratic function of political parties”. He knows exactly what they can, and sometimes do, do and how utterly unaccountable they are for those actions, even when they amount to a blatant perversion of the electoral process because he and I spent the evening of my sacking sitting together at TV3 going through the events that led up to it and he later covered our High Court challenge.

          In my own case, NZF ran the argument that it didn’t exist, in a legal sense. There was a “NZF Inc” but it had a membership of 4 (Winston and his cronies) and all the people who’d paid their $1 memberships were in fact members of a totally separate entity, NZF, which was neither incorporated society, company, nor any other structure recognised in law and thus was un-sueable.

          While this wasn’t tossed out nor was it accepted. Instead the High Court accepted the equally novel argument that we had no standing as we’d resigned in protest, even though we were members at the time the complained-of conduct took place.

          Try running that line if you’re a union, or any other truly democratic body, and see how far you get.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            I don’t believe that the Labour can choose to act democratically.

            The structures preclude that possibility. Just as you squeeze orange juice from a lemon or obtain a netball result from a game of rugby, so you can’t arrive at democracy through hierarchical structures.

            You might arrive a very rough and inadequate approximation of democracy using hierarchies; to the extent say, that extracted lemon juice satisfies a desire for orange juice because they are both juice. Or that a rugby result would satisfy a netball fan because there was a sport’s result. So you get a decision from a hierarchy. Just like you would have got a decision from a democracy. Everyone is happy.

            And the same applies to unions. The structures that they must employ by law in this country to attain registration, preclude democracy or at the very best offer only the possibility of a very weak and vulnerable expression of democracy.

          • IrishBill 4.1.1.1.2

            The Labour party was around long before the current lot and it will be around after them too and that’s because it is a lot more democratic than the personality cult that is NZF.

            I’ve watched it be co-opted by the right and then won back by the centre and I’ll see it shift again I’m sure as new generations of people come through it and organise around different ideas of what it should be.

            The main thing is that the labour party, and the left, keep organising. One of the things I have admired most about the Greens is the fact they recognise they are only the parliamentary arm of a wider environmental movement.

            • Bill 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Okay. So the Labour Party has been variously co-opted or captured by groups of people claiming either rightist or leftist credentials.

              So what? Where is the democracy in all of that?

              I’m sure we could map out all the power struggles that took place within ‘The Party’ of that erstwhile rather large Eurasian country. And that party still exists today and it organises around different ideas and so on. But we wouldn’t look to convince anybody that it has or had any credibility in terms of measures of democracy, would we? So why do so for the NZ Labour Party when it has built itself around what are essentially the same anti-democratic structures?

              If the left is determined to be stupid and simplistic enough to merely ‘keep on organising’ without having a very strong focus on how it organises, then the day will arrive when all the trains are going to be running on time.

              • IrishBill

                The point is the Labour party, like most other democratic organisations, is a vehicle that anyone with an idea they can organise around can add to the manifesto and see their idea become policy.

                The way to make any organisation more democratic is to get more people and their ideas involved. Perhaps you should join the Labour party (or the Greens) yourself and organise to change the organisational structure to something you find more democratic.

                If the neo-libs could get their daft and dangerous ideas in place in the ’80s a sensible one like yours shouldn’t be too hard to get in place with time and good organising.

                • Bill

                  The point with all hierarchical organisations is that ideas, policies and manifestos come into being as a result of power struggles. You have said as such yourself, “I’ve watched it ( the Labour Party) be co-opted by the right and then won back by the centre and I’ll see it shift again…”

                  The Labour Party is not for democratising. How can it be? It exists and functions within a wider undemocratic environment.

                  Take the simple and most basic democratic premise that an individual should have an input into a decision roughly in line with the likely effect any decision would have on him/her.

                  How does that stack up against the basic Labour Party reality which is that it exists in order to battle to represent people? It doesn’t.

                  So expending energy to democratise an organisation that cannot be democratised would be a bit of a waste. I’m not saying that there aren’t little things that could be done here and there to make party members feel a bit more listened to and so on. But at the end of the day, the Labour Party has to be hierarchical in order to function in the undemocratic environment it exists in. And hierarchical organisations always find equilibrium in authoritarianism.

                  So, keep the pressure on parliamentary parties to pay heed to society rather than business.

                  Meantime, organise using democratic principles (and I’d suggest the Labour Party and most recognisable elements of the left would run a mile from such initiatives) and put energy into building substantive democratic alternatives to the parliamentary sham we have to endure.

                  • IrishBill

                    Fair enough. I’ve been involved in a lot of differently structured organisations and movements and I’ve never seen any that didn’t rely on power struggles (either factional or interpersonal or both) at some level to make decisions. If you’ve got an idea of how to organise using democratic principles and avoid hierarchy (either explicit or implicit) then you should write a post about it and I’ll be more than happy to put it up here.

                  • Rex Widerstrom

                    Bill:

                    Take the simple and most basic democratic premise that an individual should have an input into a decision roughly in line with the likely effect any decision would have on him/her.

                    Not for one moment arguing that that’s not an ideal towards which we should strive, but is it ever achievable, in any structure?

                    What about those most greatly affected but too apathetic to exercise choice, for instance? What if those most affected are least able to choose? (e.g. mental hralth policy).

                    More pertinently, how does one measure the degree of effect a decision has upon an individual? Right now, any decision NACT makes affects me in practical terms less than anyone living in NZ. But I’d argue that I probably care more than quite a few residents. And what if I move back next week? Or in ten years? The decision taken today might affect me significantly. And so on…

                    I can see all the time being spent delineating “degree of affectedness” before apportioning the vote on that basis, such that little time would be left for the actual issue.

                    I’m not nit-picking… well I suppose I am, but out of a genuine desire to know more about the alternatives you’re proposing. Because, with all due respect to IB, I see little point in arguing that one party is significantly less of a democratic sham than another when, as you say, in reality none are particularly democratic because of their hierarchical structures.

                    P.S. Given that I’ve had to ramble to pose the question, I’d second Irish’s suggestion that you expand on your ideas in a post. It’d be well worth a read.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    Given that key people in the Labour Party and Carter himself agree that he is “sick” then why is he being expelled from any part of the Labour party, political or otherwise? Shouldn’t everyone be helping him recover and become a resilient and effective member of the Labour Party again? Surely that is what a democratic and caring party would do.

    Before anyone says this is just a insy winsy “stress” problem, it is recognised that the effects of stress can be very severe including anxiety, depression, and outbursts of anger plus other long-term problems.

    Thus, it is quite possible that his “stress” disorder has caused him to behave in an irrational way. Thus, he may not be responsible for his actions, so should be deserving of help in rehabilitation.

    • IrishBill 5.1

      Yep. And it’s quite possible Carter will be censured without being expelled. Which would be messy but may be the fairest outcome.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        Irish, I realise this might be a possibility at the party level. However, it doesn’t explain why he has been expelled from caucus. It seems to me they are only doing it because theres no OSH repercussions in parliament (as far as I know), so they can get away with it.

        If this had been under OSH regulations, an employer could have been prosecuted if they had not ensured their workplace was safe with respect to stress. If the Labour Party has contributed to the stress Carter is under, it seems unfair that they would take the action they have against him rather than give him a break for awhile and provide access to counselling, therapy etc.

        • Daveosaurus 5.1.1.1

          The Labour Party is not Chris Carter’s employer. If you consider this an OSH issue, you should take it up with whoever it is that employs the Member of Parliament for Te AtatÅ«.

          • tsmithfield 5.1.1.1.1

            I said “IF this had been under OSH regulations”.

            Clearly it wasn’t. However, I still think that Goff should have acted within the spirit of that law if he truly believes that Carter is sick.

          • Rich 5.1.1.1.2

            That would be the people of Te Atatu.

        • Puddleglum 5.1.1.2

          TS, I think you’ll find most of the stress was caused via the media and his political opponents, not from within the Labour caucus. After all, aren’t many commentators telling us that Goff was far too lenient on Carter for far too long?

          In terms of your highly moral position, presumably some journalists and some of his political opponents in National and Act should now be dipping into their pockets to cover any counselling, etc. he may require? Or are they, oddly, not culpable for the harmful consequences of their actions while the Labour Party is culpable for any contribution to his stress it may have caused?

          • J Mex 5.1.1.2.1

            I think you’ll find most of the stress was caused via the media and his political opponents

            That doesn’t matter. It’s akin to me, as an employer, running the line that suppliers and competitors are causing stress to my employee, rather than my business causing the stress. It would be interesting to see this case transposed into a regular workplace.

            I actually know personally of a business that was in the process of investigating and firing an employee over theft. They almost had all the evidence they needed when the employee claimed that the whole investigation process was too stressful and promptly took indefinite sick leave, with a doctors note. The person was fired eventually but it was a long and drawn out and expensive process.

            • Puddleglum 5.1.1.2.1.1

              No, JMex, it’s not the same.

              The Labour Party is not his employer, it’s just one of many organisations and individuals involved in Carter’s political life. In fact, if we take seriously the claim often made by aggrieved citizens that MPs are ‘our’ employees, then it’s clear who would be responsible for the stressful workplace conditions Carter has been exposed to – us.

              [My point was in response to TS’s apparent assumption that the Labour Party had sole responsbility for putting Carter under stress (hence the comment about ‘if this had been under OSH regulations’ and the implication that Labour would have been the ones held to account under such regulations) and for giving him access to counselling and therapy if needed.]

              So, it’s not akin to you as an employer blaming suppliers, etc. for a worker’s stress. It’s more like a member of a sporting club being attacked by the media and other sporting codes and then the sporting club being said to be solely responsible for that person’s stress and hence any counselling or whatever that is required (TS’s point) despite having allowed the person to remain a member of the club after the media and other codes have been saying he should be expelled, reprimanded more severely, etc. and therefore causing the stress.

              That’s what it’s ‘akin to’.

    • felix 5.2

      Good to see you’re so concerned.

      • tsmithfield 5.2.1

        Yes.

        The point I am trying to make is that Goff’s words don’t quite match his actions.

        His words say that Carter is “sick”. Yet his actions say that Carter is a devious, scheming traitor. If he really believes that Carter is to some extent affected by his “sickness” then surely he should at the very least have had Carter assessed for the degree to which his actions were a product of his sickness. But he didn’t do that before he pulled the trigger.

        • felix 5.2.1.1

          Who would’ve though you’d made that first comment just so’s to facilitate an attack on Goff?

          Full of surprises aintcha?

          • tsmithfield 5.2.1.1.1

            Who me? 🙂

            However, I think my point deserves an explanation. After all, as the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”.

  6. Santi 6

    Carter should show some decency and resign from Labour and Parliament. But he will not, being a thoroughly unprincipled and corrupt individual.

    It defies logic to think this scoundrel was Labour’s minister of Education.

  7. Alwyn 7

    The party could be in some trouble if they re-open the nominations for the Te Atatu electorate before they settle the question of his censure, expulsion or whatever from the Labour party.
    His was the only nomination and he was selected.
    If nominations are called again and he doesn’t get selected he probably would have a case that the party didn’t act in good faith and that they hadn’t followed the party rules. If he did take a case it could drag on through the next election which can’t possibly help Labour.
    Is anyone reading this an expert in employment law and could provide a more informed opinion.

    • Lindsey 7.1

      Don’t need an employment lawyer to know that Members of Parliament who are electorate MPs are not employed by the Political party to which they belong. Elected people are self employed for tax and ACC purposes.

      • Alwyn 7.1.1

        I wasn’t really thinking of him not getting back into Parliament at the next election.
        What I was wondering about was if the nominations are re-opened before the question of him remaining in the party was settled. It was this that I meant by the good faith question.
        ie Could the re-opening of nominations be considered as pre-judging his “trial” by the party council and therefore mean that consideration of his standing in the party when the are able to look at it not be being done in good faith.
        Rereading my original post I can see that I wasn’t very clear. Actually I’m not sure that this is much better but blame celebrating the All Black’s win for that.

  8. Tigger 8

    So where was democracy when Worth was shoved out? And why did he leave again? That’s right, we don’t know.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      And where are the defamation suits Worth was going to file against any and all who made allegations?

      I seem to remember ts put a lot of weight behind Worth’s legal mind and urged caution against people saying things. Though I could be wrong about that, but he was all over the place in trying to pin it all on the victims.

    • jbanks 8.2

      Worth wanted the best for his party’s future and this didn’t involve an embarrassing sideshow.

      • prism 8.2.1

        Actually Carter wanted the best for his party’s future jbanks. Agreed that it ended up as you said, but getting a leader moving is as hard as pushing my car when it breaks down.

    • burt 8.3

      Classic, it was unacceptable that Worth was “fired without explanation’ but suddenly the Labour party want to be allowed to be as bad as the National party they think are a disgrace . How many times do we need to remind dim-bulb partisan hacks that “they did it too’ is an excuse that little kids and people with zero integrity use.

      Oh I know, it’s not fair that Labour needs to be judged on their own behaviour rather than relative to “unacceptable’ behaviour of other parties; but please please dim-bulb partisans try and remember. It’s not OK to be no worse than the other team you need to be accountable for your own actions against standards that we hold all parties to.

  9. Anne 9

    @tsmithfield
    Your attempt to try and turn the debate into an attack on Goff and Labour is disingenuous (hey fellow commenters, please look up your dictionaries and learn how to spell this word 😉 ) and was amusingly obvious from your first comment.
    1. Yes, Carter is severely stressed and needs time out to recover.
    2. No, the Labour Party didn’t contribute towards that stress. The MSM (and TV3 in particular) played a major role, but Carter brought much of it on himself.
    3. He’s not suffering a clinically diagnosed mental illness. We would have heard about it by now if he was. Therefore the Labour caucus was justified in expelling him from the parliamentary team.

    • The Voice of Reason 9.1

      Er, yes, guilty as charged, Anne. I’ve fired the sub editor responsible and can reassure the reading public of this proud organisation’s commitment to excellence going forward.

      • Anne 9.1.1

        If it’s any consolation TVoR, your transgression re-this word is only the latest in a long list which extends back into the mists of time.

  10. John 10

    I like Carter I am prepared to forgive his joy trips with his boyfriend Why? I was moved by his defence of the Weka from small scale factory farming.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Hi Anne

    “Your attempt to try and turn the debate into an attack on Goff and Labour is disingenuous”

    Not really. The premise of this thread is that Labour is a warm, cuddly, democratic party. However, the way Carter has been treated may suggest otherwise.

    “No, the Labour Party didn’t contribute towards that stress.”

    You’re making a big assumption here. They may or may not have contributed. But did they give adequate support and resources to him given the stress he was under? If not, then its unfair to blame Carter entirely for his actions. Goff has implied that Carter was not acting rationally by asserting that he is “sick”. That being the case he needs help to get well. Not punishment. So, at least at the parliamentary wing of the party it seems he hasn’t been treated fairly given that Goff himself, and presumably other Labour MP’s believe that Carter is “sick”.

    “He’s not suffering a clinically diagnosed mental illness.”

    Another big assumption. We don’t know this. In reality mental illness tends to be on a continuum rather segment nicely into “clinical” and non-clinical. So, it may not be absolutely clear whether he is clinically ill or not.

    IrishBill: The point of this post is not that Labour is a “warm cuddly democratic party”. How many times have I had to warn and ban you for this kind of deliberate misrepresentation? Take another month off.

    • Anne 11.1

      They are not assumptions ts. I’m a member of the LP, and I know the politicians involved. You are the one who has been making the assumptions – couched as they may be in not so subtle spin -and without any evidence.

      I see you have been temporarily banned for your efforts, but not before you had a good go at dissembling the facts.

      • J Mex 11.1.1

        Jesus Irish! That’s a bit tough. TS no more misrepresents (or exaggerates for effect) than many of your posters (and some Standard authors!).

        Nevertheless, TS makes a fair point. Goff, and others, have noted that Carters actions are those of someone who is not well. They assume that his unwellness is a result of stress in the workplace, or that stress contributed to that condition. His behaviour is out of character.

        Given those observations, his parliamentary chums, and leader, should be trying to help Carter rather than get rid of him. I know that if I were in Goffs shoes, I would want to get rid of Carter. But as an employer, given the same set of circumstances, I couldn’t, immediately (and if I did my actions would be decried by most on the left and especially the unions – for example the EPMU).

        Now, Goff and Labour are not Carters employers, but it does seem counter to their core beliefs that Goff and Little would act in this way.

        Anne – It doesn’t have to be a clinically diagnosed medical disorder. “Stress” is common and recognised as a workplace impairment condition.

        • The Voice of Reason 11.1.1.1

          A bit confused there, Jmex. Goff and Little are doing exactly what a fair and reasonable employer would do. The delay is at Carter’s request. It is he who is claiming illness. Nobody is “assuming” anything about Carter’s state of mind, but it’s pretty obvious that he has been behaving strangely for quite some while.

          Despite his illness, Carter has still done something fundamentally wrong, which needs addressing. Despite not fronting personally, he has been represented at every step so far. The outcome of the enquiry will almost certainly find that he has breached Labour’s rules, but the sanction that follows may be less severe if it is accepted that he acted as a result of the illness.

          Honestly, what else can Labour do but follow their own rules, apply natural justice to the process and come to decision based on the facts. Contrast that with how Key handled Worth. Anyone know why he was fired? Anybody know what process was used? At least with Labour it’s all open and above board.

        • Anne 11.1.1.2

          J Mex
          You’re not telling me or anyone else anything we don’t know already. I have the impression you’re taking up the cudgels on tsmithfield’s behalf, and continuing the dissembling process – for political purposes?

        • felix 11.1.1.3

          “Jesus Irish! That’s a bit tough.”

          Considering that that’s about all ts ever contributes here I’d say he got off remarkably lightly.

        • loota 11.1.1.4

          Anne It doesn’t have to be a clinically diagnosed medical disorder. “Stress’ is common and recognised as a workplace impairment condition.

          Workers impaired by stress who drive trucks off the road, or who incorrectly operate and damage heavy machinery, or who cause an accident placing workmates at risk all commonly get suspended or transferred from their normal work area in order to minimise further risks to themselves and others.

          But as an employer, given the same set of circumstances, I couldn’t, immediately (and if I did my actions would be decried by most on the left and especially the unions for example the EPMU).

          I’m not aware of any cases where the EPMU insisted a worker should stay on and continue to be a hazard to themselves or their workmates, are you? And of course, in this instance Carter has not lost his job, but he has lost his role in the Labour Caucus.

        • lprent 11.1.1.5

          J Mex – he has been warned about doing it before and even banned for it..

          He tried to re-frame what Irish actually wrote into what TS thought Irish should have written (to conform to TS’s prejudices and/or spin lines). It pisses me off when people try to do it, and I regularly hand out bans/sarcasm for doing it.

          It is a particularly irritating and almost invariably deliberate tactic used to do thread jacking (and therefore beloved by ACToids). TS had many other options about how he could have presented it as being his opinion rather than Irish’s, but he chose not to. To do it the way that he did is idiotic… I think the ban was well deserved.

  12. sean plunket 12

    Great to see my question provoked some debate and discussion ( a fair bit of it rational and insightful ) that is after all what The Nation seeks to do.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 12.1

      Telling the public bullshit and then claiming it contributes to ‘debate’ seems to be line you have learned from the politicians Sean.
      But now the polls have have Labour and Goff a boost will you interested in more ‘debate’ or will it be time to ‘move on’ maybe to issues like the unemployment rate. I bet Hooten and Farrar wont be up early to contribute to the ‘debate’ on that issue.

    • IrishBill 12.2

      It wasn’t the question so much as the statement you based the question on. Tell me, why on earth did nobody take Cunliffe up on the savings scheme stuff? If he is planning a compulsory savings scheme it represents a pretty significant leftward economic shift (and one that gave us National’s infamous dancing cossacks campaign last time it was tried) and yet nobody asked him to elaborate.

      In fact John claimed he wanted to see a point of difference between Labour and National almost immediately afterwards.

      • sean plunket 12.2.1

        Because Cunliffe repeatedly and pointedly said he was not in aposition to give us any details of a policy that was still in development

        • IrishBill 12.2.1.1

          Fair enough. I still got the feeling he would have given more detail if he’d been pushed a little. Probably for the best that nobody asked though, the last thing Labour needs right now is to announce half-finished policy on Saturday morning telly.

  13. Anne 13

    Despite the criticisms, your debut was worthy of congratulations Sean Plunket. Looked into the wrong camera a few times but we’ll forgive you for that. Keep it up and you’ll be giving the fella on the other channel a run for his money.

  14. tc 14

    “Many in the media seem to want …” sums up the MSM perfectly.
    Agenda’s substitue for open far minded reporting of facts with an eye for history and comparisons to previous actions/statements from all sides……Richard Worth etc

    The CC saga shows what a bunch of ambulance chasers they are….bet NACT’s enjoying the heat coming off their appalling performances on their aspirational 2008 pledges on the wage gap amongst others but hey CC makes for better emotive responses from the punters to enhance those ratings points.

  15. Tiggy 15

    Carter needs to go, simple.

  16. Gazza 16

    All this backward & forward banter about Carter and his sickness/attempted (?)coup is only a red herring to detract from the real reason to his ousting.
    Goff by using the credit card misdemeanour’s and Carters so called coup attempt has effectively shut down two off his threats to the leadership, the main one being Jones and as a warning to others with any ideas.
    The media only look at the highlights to promote their stories not the underlying reasons

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